Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

The EU’s role in the Indo-Pacific


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AUKUS

Mains level : Paper 2- EU's role in Indo-Pacific


Speedy development of the Quad comprising Australia, Japan, India and the U.S.; the emergence of AUKUS comprising Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.; and other alignments raise the question: where does Europe stand in relation to this churning?

Significance of EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy

  • Europe’s Asia connect is old, strong and multi-layered.
  • Since 2018, countries such as France, the Netherlands, Germany and the U.K. announced their specific policies towards the Indo-Pacific.
  • The announcement by the Council of the European Union of its initial policy conclusions in April, followed by the unveiling of the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific on September 16, are notable.
  • Focus on security and development: The policy document also says cooperation will be strengthened in sustainable and inclusive prosperity, green transition, ocean governance, digital governance and partnerships, connectivity, security and defence, and human security.

Way forward for EU

  • Support France: The EU’s security and defence capabilities are quite limited, as compared to the U.S. and China.
  • To obviate an imbalance in favour of economic links, EU will need to give adequate space and support to France which has sizeable assets and linkages with the Indo-Pacific.
  • Coordination with UK: EU also must forge strategic coordination with the U.K. as the latter prepares to expand its role in Asia as part of its ‘Global Britain’ strategy.
  • Leverage economic power: As a major economic power, the EU has an excellent chance of success in its trade negotiations with Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand; economic partnership agreement with the East African Community; and in forging fisheries agreements and green alliances.
  • To achieve all this and more, EU must increase its readiness to share its financial resources and new technologies with partners.
  • Internally coordinated approach:Many states view China as a great economic opportunity, but others are acutely conscious of the full contours of the China challenge.
  • Russia next door is the more traditional threat. It is increasingly on China’s side.
  • Hence, the EU should find it easy to cooperate with the Quad.
  • AUKUS, endeavours by a part of the western alliance to bolster naval and technological facilities to deal with China should be welcome.

Way forward for India

  • India’s pivotal position in the region necessitates a closer India-EU partnership.
  • Early conclusion of an ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement and a standalone investment protection agreement will be major steps.
  • Cooperation in Industry 4.0 technologies is desirable.
  • Consolidating and upgrading defence ties with France, Germany and the U.K. should also remain a significant priority.


The EU can create a vantage position for itself in the Indo-Pacific by being more candid with itself, more assertive with China, and more cooperative with India.

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